Fans of the sugary beverage known as Pepsi-Cola should note it was just 120 years ago this month that the beverage was “Born in the Carolinas,” as its logo claims. In August 1898, pharmacist Caleb Bradham renamed his healthy and refreshing ‘Brads Drink’ to ‘Pepsi-Cola’ and international enterprise began.

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Postcard of ‘The Home of Pepsi-Cola at New Bern N.C. – built by us for our own use’, 1920s. Durwood Barbour Collection of NC Postcards (PO77)

Bradham, from Chinquapin, NC, attended UNC in 1886, leaving for medical school in 1889. He became a pharmacist in the growing coastal town of New Bern, opening Bradham’s Pharmacy with an in-store soda fountain in 1892. Bradham enjoyed making delicious drinks as well as making medicines, and his pharmacy quickly became a staple of downtown. Bradham focused on making a safe drink from natural ingredients (his original recipe didn’t even have caffeine) believed to help with digestion. He was inspired by the Greek word ‘pepsis’ meaning ‘digestion’ and changed the name to Pepsi-Cola in August 1898.

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Carolina-focused advertising pin-back button, 2000s.
NCC Lew Powell Collection, (CK.1287.1745)

His Pepsi-Cola Company was worth more than $1 million by 1915, but tragedy was just around the corner. By the 1920s, World War I was over, but supplies, like sugar, were expensive. In 1923 Pepsi-Cola Company declared bankruptcy. Purchased by a Wall Street Banker forjust $30,000, Pepsi would never again be under North Carolina ownership. Although financially crippled, Bradham’s connection to UNC continued. He sponsored the Bradham Prize for scholarship at the School of Pharmacy until 1930.

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Pin-back advertising ‘Pepsi Fest East’ for Pepsi memorabilia collectors, 1996.
NCC Lew Powell Collection, (CK.1287.2154)

Pepsi-Cola moved to Richmond, VA after Bradham’s ownership, but the company continues to highlight its North Carolina roots. “Born in the Carolinas” is one of the official trademarks of Pepsi-Cola in its regional marketing strategy. Pepsi has also provided sponsorship to NASCAR and to North Carolina driver Richard Petty. Greenville’s PirateFest is co-sponsored by Pepsi, and Pepsi Fest collector events are held in North Carolina. The nation’s largest privately-held manufacturer, seller and distributor of Pepsi is claimed by Raleigh’s Pepsi Bottling Ventures. New Bern hosts the Birthplace of Pepsi, a private museum that celebrates the site of Pepsi’s beginning.

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Pin-back featuring two North Carolina-born companies. Food Lion was founded in Salisbury, NC in 1957.
NCC Lew Powell Collection, (CK.1287.2985)

The NC Collection Gallery in Wilson Library holds a variety of Pepsi-related items and artifacts. A small exhibit noting the 120th anniversary of Pepsi-Cola features some of these artifacts. The cabinet to the left at the entrance of the Gallery will now be used for small changing exhibits highlighting various events in North Carolina History.

  • – Bob Schreiner, NCC Gallery

1. What N.C. county is 75 percent water?

2. Mexican Joe was the original name of what familiar tabletop condiment?

3. How do North Carolina, North Dakota and North Korea rank in area?

4. With which of these cities is Charlotte on nearly the same latitude?

A. Tokyo.

B. London.

C. Paris.

D. Rome.

5. What entertainers were born Milton Supman, Richard Fliehr and Randy Traywick?

Answers below





1. Dare County — 383 square miles of land and 1,179 square miles is water.

2. Texas Pete hot sauce, concocted by Thad W. Garner in 1929 and still manufactured in Winston-Salem.

3. North Dakota, 70,702 square miles; North Carolina, 52,669 square miles; North Korea, 46,540 square miles.

4. A. Tokyo. The European cities are all farther north.

5. Comedian Soupy Sales, a Franklinton native; wrestler Ric Flair, a longtime Charlotte resident; and country singer Randy Travis, a Marshville native.


Front license plate that reads "North Carolina Variety Vacationland"


“Never before had there been a coordinated statewide effort to showcase North Carolina as a destination. Tourism had the potential to lift the state out of economic despair. So in 1937, the newly created Division of State Advertising embarked on a campaign under the slogan ‘Variety Vacationland’….

“The phrase … would become mostly history by the 1980s, falling out of favor to another alliterative phrase: First in Flight….”

— From “How North Carolina Became ‘Variety Vacationland’ “ by Bryan Mims in Our State (July 23, 2015) 


On this day in 1943: In a war-benefit exhibition game at Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams meet in uniform for the second and last time during their careers.

Ruth, 48 and long retired, manages and pinch-hits for a team of New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. Williams, 24, plays for the North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters, made up of major leaguers undergoing training at Marine pre-flight school in Chapel Hill.


1. Longtime character actor Murray Hamilton, who was born and died in Washington, N.C., played the husband of Anne Bancroft in what famous movie?

2. True or false: Though now known by its distinctive black and white stripes, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was once painted red and white.

3. The Durham mansion at the center of the Michael Peterson murder trial was previously owned by what well-known writer and scholar?

4. What are North Carolina’s two hyphenated municipalities?

5. In 1970 a DC-9 returning to Huntington, W.Va., carrying 75 people, including 37 Marshall University football players, crashed while approaching the runway. All died — the worst toll in U.S. sports history. Where had the flight originated?

Answers below






1. “The Graduate” — they were Mr. and Mrs. Robinson. Hamilton is also remembered as the mayor in “Jaws.”

2. True. In 1871 the upper part of the tower was painted red, the lower part white. Two years later it was painted in spiral bands of alternating black and white.

3. Henry Louis Gates Jr., author of “Colored People” and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” who taught at Duke University in the early 1990s.

4. Winston-Salem and Fuquay-Varina. Winston merged with Salem in 1913, Fuquay Springs with Varina in 1963.

5. Greenville, where the team had just played East Carolina.


Miniature TVs with images of the Outer Banks and Blowing Rock

Before flat-screen TVs there were chubby TVs — and these miniature souvenir knockoffs made in Hong Kong.
“Blowing Rock N.C. on television” offers eight click-through color images, including Grandfather Mountain and Tweetsie Railroad. (Spot any unlisted Hugh Mortons, Stephen Fletcher?)
Viewers of “Outer Banks N.C. / television” can gaze at only a single color slide of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which opened in 1963 (and is about to be replaced). Original price sticker: $1.39.

1. “Sometimes into Asheville, sometimes Memphis town / The revenooers chased him, but they couldn’t run him down.” Who sang — and wrote — these lines from the 1958 pop hit “The Ballad of Thunder Road”?

2. Before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, he first tried it out in what N.C. town?

3. Which one of these five structures has not been named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark: Dorton Arena in Raleigh, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Bank of America tower, the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge in Catawba County or the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse?

4. True or false: The population density of North Carolina is more than twice that of the United States.

5. True or false: When Strom Thurmond ran for president on the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948, he led the ballot in North Carolina.

Answers below





1. Robert Mitchum, who starred in “Thunder Road,” the Southern drive-in classic filmed in Asheville and Transylvania County.

2. Rocky Mount. Nine months before the March on Washington, King told nearly 2,000 people crowded into Booker T. Washington High School, “My friends of Rocky Mount, I have a dream tonight. It is a dream rooted deeply in the American dream I have a dream that one day right here in Rocky Mount, N.C., the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will meet at the table of brotherhood.”

3. The 60-story Bank of America Corporaste Center, tallest building between Atlanta and Philadelphia.

4. True. The national density is about 91 people per square mile. North Carolina’s is 206.

5. False. Harry Truman received 58 percent of the vote, Thomas Dewey 33 percent and Thurmond 9 percent.


Miniature photo album bracelet
Somebody went to a lot of trouble to put together this souvenir trinket — miniature foldout photos of North Carolina landmarks (State Capitol, Duke Chapel, etc.), encased in a  leather-like cover with metallic emblem, all attached to a link bracelet.

The black and white images are “real photos” — like early postcards — rather than lithographed. Circa 1930s?

1. What writer caused a furor in Chapel Hill in 1931 with his poem about the Scottsboro Boys, nine black teenagers unjustly accused of rape in Alabama?

2. What are the four “-villes” among North Carolina’s 15 largest cities?

3. What N.C. airport has the longest commercial runway between Washington and Atlanta?

4. Advertising Age chose what cigarette as having the top icon of the 20th century? As having one of the top 10 jingles?

5. What British rock group took its name from two Carolinas blues musicians?


Answers below





1. Langston Hughes, whose “Christ in Alabama” appeared on the cover of the local but world-renowned literary journal Contempo just as he arrived on campus. Hughes spoke at the Playmakers Theatre while police stood guard outside. He later said he had had “a swell time” on his visit.

2. Fayetteville, Greenville, Asheville and Jacksonville.

 3. The little-used Global TransPark in Kinston.

4. Marlboro (the Marlboro Man). Winston (“Winston tastes good like a cigarette should”).

5. Pink Floyd, after Pink Anderson, born in Laurens, S.C., and Floyd Council, born in Chapel Hill.


Employee badge for Wiscassett Mills


This beat-up, taped-up employee badge is a humble reminder of a once-thriving outpost of the Cannon textile empire.

Wiscassett Mills was founded in Albemarle in 1898. During World War II,  its yarns were used for machine gun belts and parachute harnesses. In 1978 Wiscassett was purchased by Cannon Mills. By 2000 when the plant closed — “citing imports,” in the familiar explanation of a trade-press obit — its employees numbered only 81.

But the Wiscassett mill village, according to the Albemarle Downtown Development Corp., “remains virtually intact in its early 20th century appearance. See a classic example of the paternalistic social structure that was common to North Carolina textile communities in the early 1900s.”

h/t Stanly County Museum for these terrific panoramic (cirkut)  images of mill life a century ago….

— Four of the eight Wiscassett mills at their height

Workers at Plant No. 4, card room and spinning room

— “Ladies Serving Wiscassett Mills Barbeque,” 1916. (Don’t miss the watermelons.)

— An overview of the festivities, featuring a race of some sort.


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